Is it Safe for Tourists to Travel to Uganda in 2023?
In general, Uganda is safe, especially for the tourists who arrive in the country, Uganda is one of the safest politically stable countries ranked among the top 10 safest tourism destinations in Africa. Uganda is one of the friendliest countries in East Africa with welcoming and hospitable people however just like in the other countries, there are prevailing opportunistic crimes such as theft, robbery, and fraud however the crime rate and statistics in Uganda are low and in this case of Ebola and Covid 19 infections, these can be avoided especially by following the SOPs.
Questions commonly asked about Uganda include:
What Kind of Country is Uganda?
Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa bordered by Kenya in the East, South Sudan in the North, DRC in the west, Rwanda in the southwest, and Tanzania in the south. Uganda was branded as the Pearl of Africa by Winston Churchill because it is naturally a blessed country with diverse flora and fauna, lavish rolling hills, ever-green misty rain forests, Glacier white-snowcapped mountain ranges, spectacular powerful waterfalls such as Murchison Falls, African great lakes like Lake Victoria and longest rivers such as River Nile, beautiful beaches and Exceptional Savannah grasslands found in all the national parks in Uganda.
What are the road safety measures in Uganda?
Uganda is a developing country in terms of Road network however most of the roads that lead to all Uganda national parks are developed and there are measures, rules, and guidelines put in place which have helped in reducing the rate of reported traffic fatalities hence ensuring road safety for both nationals and international tourists. Pedestrians are cautioned to be more careful while on the streets because they can encounter careless drivers. Driving during day time is safer than late at night. Drivers in Uganda should be 18 years old and above with a valid driving license, the driving speed limit is 50km per hour in the urban centers while in the rural areas it is 80km per hour and other guidelines. In case of road traffic violations, drivers are handled by the department of traffic enforcement including the Uganda police and traffic officers.
Enjoy Safaris Africa is a licensed tour company with highly skilled and knowledgeable drivers who have valid driving licenses and they are familiar with all roads in Uganda. They are determined and always willing to do their best when driving to ensure the safety of the tourists on a Safari.
What are the crime rate and law enforcement in Uganda?
Crimes are always reported in both developed and developing countries however in Uganda the crime rate has reduced to 9.75% since 2020 due to the measures taken by crime control task forces known as the Uganda People’s Defense force (UPDF). There are a few prevailing petty crimes that can occur at any time and require you to be careful such as theft, robbery, fraud, and home invasion however there are measures put in place to curb all the criminals, especially in big cities like Kampala and Entebbe and these measures include installing cameras on busy roads and public places, deploying police and military officers who are skilled and fully equipped with resources in different public places hence it has helped in enforcing justice.
All Uganda national parks and other different tourist destinations including the hotels are safe for humans and animals in terms of security and they have installed surveillance cameras, employed experienced armed park rangers, guides, and the tourism police which is in charge of maintaining law and order in the national parks and the surroundings.
Terrorism and Regional security in Uganda
Uganda has experienced a few terrorist attacks due to the highly maintained level of vigilance among the security forces and nationals. Uganda’s security forces have intensified operations and this has helped to disrupt and dismantle acts of domestic terrorism done by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) which is allied with Islamic State (IS). However, despite the prevailing vigilance, there was a terrorist attack reported on 16th November 2021 in the capital city of Uganda known as Kampala which claimed the lives of the bombers, and 4 innocent lives of nationals, and it as well left 33 people injured. This alerted the Government of Uganda which created awareness among the people in Uganda and advised them to avoid large crowds, especially in public places and the security operations were tightened to curb those who were involved in the terrorist attacks.
The Regional security of Uganda has been strengthened between the Police force and other security agencies which have helped in maintaining peace, diplomacy, and cooperating with the neighboring governments to combat terrorism. The citizens of Uganda as well as foreigners are advised to keep a keen eye on suspicious situations or people and avoid crowded areas, and gatherings in public places.
Climate and Weather
Uganda is called a tropical country because of its tropical climate which involves abundant sunshine all year round with temperatures hardly rising above 29 degrees (84° F). The average annual temperature is about 26° C Celsius (78° F). Uganda’s temperatures are moderate throughout the year whereby In Kampala and near Lake Victoria, the average daily temperatures range from 18° to 28° C (65° to 83° F) in January and from 17° to 25° C (62° to 77° F) in July. Uganda’s climate is substantially tropical with two rainy seasons per year from March to May and September to December. However, September and October are the only months with the highest number of approximately 24 rainy days whereas January is the only month with the least number of approximately 11 rainy days. The northern region of Uganda forms one-quarter of the country and it lies outside the tropical belt hence experiencing only one rainy season from March to October. Light rain season months are November and December. Uganda does not have a winter or spring season. There are only 2 seasons in Uganda, wet and dry and each occurs twice a year. Being crossed by the equator, Uganda has a warm tropical climate apart from the mountainous areas which are much cooler, especially at the top of Mount Elgon and Mountain Rwenzori ranges which are often covered with snow.
The best time to visit Uganda is during the dry season when the weather conditions are good hence tourists can engage in all the activities including gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, Game viewing, birding, hiking, Mountaineering, and many more.
Diseases and Health
Currently, Uganda has fully recovered from the global pandemic (covid 19) as there are no reported cases however there are some cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) reported in September in the western and central regions of Uganda and it has affected certain districts including Kampala, Mubende, Bunyangabu, Kagadi, Kassanda, Kyegegwa, and Wakiso. The World Health Organization and other health organizations have set up treatment centers for Ebola patients in some hospitals, deployed professional health workers, and provided sufficient Ebola kits to treat the patients. There is a high risk of Malaria in certain places like rural areas especially during the rainy season so Tourists are advised to get Travel insurance as well as carrying with them over-the-counter medication since excellent medical services may be deficient unlike in the big cities like Kampala and Entebbe which have Excellent Health facilities and lastly, all foreigners including tourists must obtain all the required vaccinations before traveling to Uganda.
How to stay safe in Uganda
It is easy to stay safe and healthy in Uganda whereby both nationals and foreigners should be cautious, and alert and avoid engaging in certain things that violate the laws of the Ugandan government the following should be done in order to ensure your safety
Avoid large public gatherings
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Ugandans were restricted from attending public gatherings in order to reduce the spread of Covid 19 as well as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Besides covid 19, there are many crimes associated with public gatherings such as petty theft and robbery of personal items like phones, money, jewelry, and other valuable items.
Accepting food and drinks from strangers
Many foreigners are targeted by scammers who can do anything to steal from you though sometimes it has to do with some sort of “kind gesture.” Just the same, it’s not appropriate. Some people may be allergic to or intolerant to the food being offered, and a stranger would have no way of knowing so you should be vigilant. Do not drink tap water.
Get travel insurance
While on a safari in a foreign land, emergencies can happen unexpectedly when it requires financial protection hence this can be easily covered if at you have your travel insurance. These certain problems include lost luggage to the cost of medical care if you become seriously ill or have an accident and accidental death.
Avoid political rallies and protests
It is not safe for tourists to join political protests because they can lead to injury or loss of life, petty theft, and destruction of property which is a criminal action and against the law since it increases the mortality rate and damages the municipal and state properties
Avoid moving with your valuable items
Tourists should be very cautious when moving with their valuable items especially their travel documents as they are easily targeted by thieves. It is better to leave your valuable items at your reserved hotel instead of losing them during your movement on the streets or being stolen.
Take your over-the-counter medication
Since there is a high risk, especially in the rural remote areas where medical services are inadequate, it is better for tourists to carry with them antimalarial pills, and some pain relief tabs or go on a malaria vacation before traveling to Uganda on a Safari.
Avoid walking alone at night
It is not safe for anyone to walk alone at the night especially foreigners because this is the time when people get mugged, robbed, or have their bags pulled off of them by Boda drivers. If you would like to move at night use Uber as taking bodas off the street is risky and some Boda riders cannot be trusted.